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What is the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes?

Updated: Jun 13

All tomato plants fall into either a determinate or indeterminate category. Depending on the amount of space you have and the amount of effort you want to put into staking and caging, it's important to know what type of tomatoes you should choose to grow.

  • Determinate Tomatoes are more compact, sometimes bushy, and don't take up as much space. These tomatoes grow to a certain size (usually 3 or 4 feet) and then stop growing. They tend to produce all of their fruit at one time and after that, they won't produce much more. For this reason, determinate tomatoes are great for canning since you'll have a lot ready to harvest at the same time. It's good to use cages with determinate tomatoes, but they generally don't need staking up in the garden. These types are also ideal for containers - use pots that are at least 18" across and 24" deep or a 5 gallon bucket with holes drilled in the bottom. Remember to water your containers daily during the summer or the plants will be damaged and more susceptible to disease.

  • Indeterminate Tomatoes continue to grow through out the season and will produce fruit up until the first frost in the fall. Because the vines keep growing, these types must be staked or trellised for best results. These types of tomatoes generally grow to about 6 feet, but could get as tall as 12 feet high. If you have room, be sure to plant a few indeterminate tomato plants so you can enjoy BLTs all summer long!

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